16 CommentsEditorials / By Scamp /

A good review is one that agrees with my opinion

When I first started watching anime, reviews were invaluable assets in deciding what I should watch next. In those days, it was the reviews that spilled forward nothing but pure praise that caught my interest and if someone was declaring their undying love for an anime then I would take that review on board and go watch said anime they were waxing lyrical over. However as time wore on, my approach to reviews changed. As my list of anime I needed to watch grew, the need to read reviews to choose my next series to watch waned. Eventually the change occurred where the reviews I was mainly reading were from anime I’d already seen. And here comes the main point of this post: A good review was no longer something that convinced me to watch the anime in question but a review that agreed with my opinion on the series.

A while go, back in Ye Olde Days of my time at Bokutachi no Blog, I copy-pasted what I considered to be one of the best written reviews I’d ever read, a pure-fanboying review of Gurren Lagann. However as the comments pointed out, it was not a good review because he missed out vital aspects of Gurren Lagann that should be included in any review of the series. Taking a more cynical tone here, this review was not a good review because it did no correspond with how the reader felt about the show themselves.

It was noted on one of the ANNCasts that the reviews of anime on ANN had stopped being a tool from which people used to decide whether to purchase the anime in question. With fansubs, everyone had seen these anime and only served as a reminder that the series was now available on dvd. People now read the reviews to see the ANN take on the show and, adopting my cynical tone yet again, to see if the review was ‘correct’ or not.

Next time you read a review on MAL and you read a review from somebody who hated Baccano, do you instantly reach for the ‘not helpful’ button? Are you marking this review as poor because it doesn’t match with your personal opinion of the anime? If they’ve clearly expressed what made them mark the anime as they have, even if you disagree with their assessment, does that still make it a poor review? Maybe next time you won’t rage-click that ‘not helpful’ button.

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15 Comments

  1. Posted January 5, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Wholly in keeping with understanding the value of well-executed reviews, I simply do not do them.

    I agree with your points about reasons for reading reviews. My own consumption follows your ‘progression’ as well.

    I just advocate shows, and make no pretense to being of service to someone on the fence meticulously filtering for ‘excellence.’

  2. temperus
    Posted January 5, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Rating a review seems pointless to me. It tends to discourage reviewers, and without other reviews from the same reviewer it’s rather pointless. I’d encourage bias in reviews.. as long as it’s consistent with what the reviewer likes or dislikes. If they review enough things and tell me their biases, I can establish whether the latest thing might appeal to me or my friends based on how like-minded the reviewer is.

    That’s it. If the reviewer wants to be “useful” instead of a troll/fanboy, they just have to establish their biases, and a consistent and honest ranking system helps, as well as reliable in-review recommendations that follow those biases. The only other things I care about are what things to look out for and why, according to the opinions of the reviewer. I don’t need technical scores and don’t care whether someone else “found the review helpful” (whatever that means/matters).

  3. wina1
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    I found this review (of reviews in general ) helpful.

  4. Posted January 6, 2010 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    I’d say a good review is one that allows me to determine whether I would enjoy watching the show or not. I don’t necessarily have to agree with the review, but if the writer can put forth the reasons why he liked/disliked a show and I can see his viewpoint and use that as a basis for determining my preferences based on the writer’s biases, then that review is valuable to me.

    Not many people can pull it off though, that’s the only problem I’ve come across.

  5. Posted January 6, 2010 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    i despise people that hate on others for not loving their favourite anime and hit that magical “disagree” button without even reading the review.

    I’ll always read a review about a show I liked to see what others thought about it. If they hated it and wrote a good enough review of the anime I will leave a well constructed comment to argue their points or point out if they even have valid reasons rather than reach for that toggle button to show my disapproval.

    leaving comments is way more rewarding to a reviewer than a stupid approval button IMO anyway temperus also makes a very good point that I agree with

  6. Scamp
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    @ghostlightning

    I read somewhere once (or maybe I’m quoting myself here…) that it’s pointless to review anything other than your favourites because that is all people are looking for. Instant filtering system achieved

    @temperus

    I disagree. With MAL’s system, instead of filtering through the 200+ reviews of Death Note, the cream floats to the top and you read the best reviews. Of course there are problems with that system, as I’ve pointed out in the post, but at its centre it’s a very sound idea.

    @wina1

    I found your review of my review of reviews helpful

    @zzeroparticle

    Then what about reviews from people who found the show decent. In your comment you’ve implied that there is no place for a review that doesn’t give a clear view of whether you should watch it or not. Honesty is always the best option while writing a review but that doesn’t therefore mean the review would be helpful or not

    @chii

    How often when reading a review on MAL would you go back and provide constructive criticism? I read a hell of a lot of reviews on MAL and there’s no way in hell I’d go back and comment on every one. The helpful button is quick and helps let the good reviews rise to the top.

    Although one thing I’ve been noticing is people automatically rating certain reviewers as having written a helpful review everytime. Tehominator is a great reviewer and all but I’m kinda sick of seeing her review at the top of every anime, even when the review itself isn’t actually that good

  7. Posted January 6, 2010 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I’ve always thought that a good review looked at all aspects of the subject, like a good newspaper article. Though, I have also thought that reviews can focus on just one point and still be good, as long as they’re not just ranting about one thing.

  8. Posted January 6, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    this post really makes me reflect to myself since I mainly do reviews for my blog.
    Well, as a reader, the review must be FUN to read and a fun review usually is the one that raises unexpected topics from a show but not necessarily covers all aspect of the show. And I personally love a bit of sarcasm :)

  9. temperus
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Personally I’ve found MAL’s recommendations and it’s “anime compatibility” with users are much more useful to me. In a perfect world, the voting system would be useful.. but it’s just not reliable enough for me despite the time I invested in rating reviews.

    As you mentioned, people seem to vote based on their compatibility with a reviewer more than whether they think the review itself is good (I’m guessing it might be because of tl;dr or the sheer volume of reviews they feel they must rate).

  10. Humanity_Cat
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Something that I like to see in a review is that it doesn’t just fangirl/boy, but it points out things that I might have missed, or fills in with mostly relative information. (Ex. like how you talk about the more historical side of Hetalia) ((I always love learning new things while I read/watch))

    A good review doesn’t neccessarily have to agree with my opinion for me. I rather like seeing the contrasting opinion and seeing why.

    But most of my opinions are pretty much what zzeroparticle said.

  11. Scamp
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    @mefloraine

    I definately disagree that a review has to look at all aspects. Apart from the fact that a lot of them might be irrelavent to the enjoyment of the series, but the review would end up tl;dr.

    @Canne

    I actually like it when a review focuses on certain aspects. One of my favourite reviews I’ve ever read was a review of Sola where whenever the animation was called into question, the reviewere descended into ‘those chins, the horrible chins!’.

    @temperus

    The compatibility is very suspect, although that’s probably because I have no idea what they use to calculate that. Reccomendations quite often just end up with anime with similar plot points rather than a similar feel. If you combine all the factors together you should be able to find out what anime you’d enjoy but that seems like an awful lot of work just to decide what anime to watch.

    @Humanity_Cat

    That’s the main reason I read reviews now. I like seeing different opinions of the same show. However don’t mix up blogging and reviewing. I know I interchange the words and I shouldn’t, but any review shouldn’t talk at length about what happened in the series

  12. Posted January 9, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    awesome analytic post XD yeah u should only blog anime you like because it’ll make blogging more phun.

  13. Posted January 10, 2010 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    SCAMP, I don’t quite agree with your idea that it’s pointless to review things that aren’t your favorites. Reviews have always existed for the purpose of helping consumers make purchasing decisions. A bad review is just as useful as a good review, since it can convince somebody who was on the fence about Epic Movie to not waste their money on that piece of trash. Beyond that, reviews also serve as a more distilled form of conversation about a work—not quite full-on literary criticism, but certainly an insightful analysis.

    Additionally, I protest the notion of only liking reviews that agree with my opinion. I’ve read a lot of great reviews of shows that I didn’t like—Erin F.’s Beck review in Otaku USA, for example. I gave that show 2 out of 4 stars (an “average” rating), but she recommended it, if I’m not mistaken. Her points are valid, and she wrote a solid review, but I felt that Beck‘s poor animation and slow pacing brought the show down. The way I see it, disagreements in opinion should always be welcomed, as they further the discussion in any fandom and contribute to a deeper appreciation of the medium.

  14. Posted January 10, 2010 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    I suppose this is where the fandom in anime fandom comes in, but it’s particularly distressing to see anime fans criticizing reviews for being… critical? The common mindset seems to be that if you don’t like a title, you shouldn’t write about, which is an absolutely stupid idea and runs contrary to the whole idea of media analysis.

    This no doubt also plays a role in how fans willingly tune into whatever garbage shows are popular that season; because they’re incapable of, or at least refuse to, view anything critically.

  15. Scamp
    Posted January 10, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Anigamers and Colony Drop commenting? What on earth brought that on?

    @Vampt Vo

    Oh no, I never said I agreed with the idea of only reviewing your favourites, sorry if I gave that impression. It’s just interesting to consider why you would review anime. If it’s just to tell people what you think they should watch, then is there any point in reviewing anything else?

    Otherwise, I totally agree. I’ve seen reviews I disagree with, like that Gurren Lagann review, where I might disagree but the review is still expertly written. The title of this post is a lie

    @Sean

    Obviously. Reviews have become more analysis than reccomendations and this percentage increases with the more anime you’ve seen. <90% of the reviews I read nowadays are shows I’ve already seen.

    I disagree that fans are incapable of viewing things critically. To take an extreme example, even the usually retarded youtube comments on Endless Eight videos were full of criticism. Obviously there were people who claimed to love it but there’s always someone who enjoys the shows out there. That returns back to the very point of this post. Just because you think Kampfer is utter shit doesn’t mean that those who enjoyed the show are ‘wrong’.

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  • By What makes a good review? « Mikotoism on January 6, 2010 at 4:24 am

    […] What makes a good review? Jump to Comments Inspired by and in reaction to Scamp’s post at The Cart Driver. […]

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